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tv   Iran Presidency and Human Rights  CSPAN  June 23, 2014 4:10am-6:01am EDT

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control. >> in the clinton administration determined they wanted to move theoperation out of federal government and monetize it. in 1998, which is to complete that private occasion. tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span 2. >> the u.s. house held a joint hearing on iran's humanitarian effort. they discussed the imprisonment. about thealso heard persecution of gay iranians. the hearing is held by the house foreign affairs committees on foreign immigrants in the middle east. this is one hour and 45 minutes. >> the joint subcommittee will come to order.
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>> after recognizing myself, chairman smith am a ranking member deutsche for opening statements, i will then recognize other members seeking recognition for one minute. then we will hear from our witnesses and without objection the witnesses prepared statement will be made part of the record. members may have five days to insert statements and questions for the record subject to the length demonstration -- like limitations. the chair recognizes herself for five minutes. -- ng aqua data jobs
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of course, we cannot forget the 2009 green movement in iran in which millions took to the streets calling for reforms. the administration refused to the soap -- refused to support the green movement and a part of the world that is resistant to peaceful change. it is unfortunately a mistake we have seen with this administration too often and we are seeking the results -- we are seeing the results of this in action and indecisiveness now. then along came the so-called moderate rouhani and the
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administration trip dollar themselves saying that he was a man who could bring reforms to iran. they were forgetting are choosing to willfully be oforant of what the fact this rouhani was the consummate regime insider, hand-picked by the supreme and -- the supreme leader to be a finalist in the presidential selection. policy, domestic or foreign, gets selected without the committee say so. everybody wanted to believe that rouhani would be the reformer. just like he had done when he was iran's chief nuclear negotiator, he managed to pull the wool over the eyes of many. aat we have seen so far in one year since rouhani won the june 14, 2013, selection, and i colored a selection because the people of iran were given a false choice of selecting one of the many hand-picked choices,
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according to the most objective analysis, the choices and iran have not gotten better and in many areas it has decreased. gotten worse. there have been more than 670 executions a lender -- under rouhani. they wanted and flagrant human rights practices do not end there. the regimeiran, continues to stifle free speech, freedom of the press, right to assembly, jailing bloggers and social media users and shutting media organizations and jailing journalists. some reports indicate that there 40 journalists
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and bloggers. iran has the highest number of jailed journalists, 100 human rights defenders and hundreds of religious minorities unjustly imprisoned in iran. one of the most endangered non-muslimiran's religious minorities who have seen the committee constantly targeted for persecution and imprisonment. there are 150 members of the baha'i community currently in iran's prisons, including -- these prisoners of conscience or bay held in iranian cousins merely for professing -- iranian prisons nearly for professing freedom believes. placed in solitary confinement, subjected to cruel conditions and denied the
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political -- the medical attention they need. of course, there is a software resident who lives in congressman deutsch's district who was abducted in iran over 2500 days ago and is now the longest held captive in u.s. history. to aid iranian promises in the investigation and search for him, they have been left -- less than forced coming. the litany of cruel and human rights abuses that continue to occur is seemingly endless. rouhani knows that all he needs to do is smile and sweet and thomas the u.s. and the west that he will cooperate on the
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nuclear issue on his transgressions and they will be forgiven are overlooked. is that how we want america to project his foreign policy? they've we won't -- i am pleased to yield to the ranking member. >> thank you, madam chairman, for holding this very important hearing. remains focused on iran's illicit nuclear program, we must not and cannot ignore this regime which is still the world's largest state sponsor of terror, responsible for the retention of american citizens and is one of the world's worst human rights abusers. we will share light on the
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continued road to -- continued grotesque human rights violations. june 14 marseille year since rouhani -- june 14 marks a year .ince rouhani repression of basic rights, discrimination against minority groups has continued every single day. theress has passed and administration that has enacted in 2011. in 2010 and this last week, a u.s. special repertory in iran whose mandate march, eightn months into the romney
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presidency, expressed outrage over the alarming amount of executions that have taken place in iran this year. per capita, iran ranks first in the world in terms of executions according to the iran documentation hearing, more than five have -- more than 500 have taken place this year alone. but the government has only reported on when 25. a 95 -- att least least 895 incarcerated. this includes political minorities,ouis students, journalists, and other civil society leaders. political prisoners face widespread physical, mental, and often sexual abuse. iran continues to discriminate and to perpetrate egregious abuses against minorities. the baha'i, the largest non-muslim religious group in the denial for jobs
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and other educational opportunities based on group membership and face discrimination throughout the iranian judicial system. aref last year, 136 baha'i being held in iranian prisons for religious reasons. since 2005, 49 incidents of arson have been reported on behind property without a single arrest -- on baha'i property without a single arrest. women are rarely afforded equal treatment in the judicial system. -- an irani runny subject toad been arrest and stoning was released. this is why constant pressure is so critical. iran he women have been constantly been persecuted for
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posted pictures of themselves. women are subject to fines by the morality police for failing to where it -- in public. now there are calls for a actress toirani be publicly flawed after a male director kissed her cheek. homosexuality is a crime. iran is one of the seven countries where same-sex relationships can be punished and it is death. free speech and freedom of expression, freedom of the press are virtually nonexistent in
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iran. we must not allow iran to drop in electronic or non-its people. -- electroni to drop on electroc curtain on its people. we could literally spend all day sharing examples of all of the ways that the people of iran are deprived of the most a sick human rights. the u.s. must continue to speak out in support and to implement policies for -- policies to bolster education. human rights cannot take a backseat in negotiations with iran. we must commit ourselves and must continue to call on every nation that we call a partner to not ignore what is going inside
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of the iran. or a country that values human rights must end of war those right everywhere. i thank you for what you do. >> thank you very much for an excellent statement. i am now pleased to yield to the chairman of the subcommittee on africa global health and human rights, mr. smith of new jersey. >> thank you, madam chair. working together, the two subcommittee send a clear on human rights in iran. it is great to work with you and your subcommittee. at the end of this month will mark two years since a pastor has seen or hugged his wife and his children. what started out as a meaningful humanitarian trip to build a orphanage for children and iran be his children to fatherless for the past two years. the pastor has been arrested before but was released and told
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he could enter and exit for humanitarian work if he agreed housep pastoring churches. iranianted the government. but iran did not uphold its end of the agreement. he was arrested in september of 2012 and remanded to a prison the taurus for iran's worst criminals to he was denied contract -- contact with his attorney until trial. the trial was a sham. they were barred from for dissipating in key portions of the trial and was sentenced to eight years in prison. what a cruel joke. onot of the details are clearer and discussion is
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difficult as the iranian government has denied access to the judicial decision. although the pastor was finally allowed to be examined i a private physician where it was determined he needed surgery, he was denied necessary treatment instead, just a few weeks ago, he was severely beaten at the total in front of his iranian family and then returned to prison. unfortunately, he isn't the only american held under questionable conditions by the iranian government.
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he has been accused of being a cia agent. prisonbeen in a iranian on trumped up charges. meanwhile, his father is dying and may never he's -- may never see his son again and life. the iranian government is believed -- robert levinson who traveled to dubai to iran's kish island and has not been seen since. that he isndications being held somewhere in southeast asia. the iranian government has not lived up to his best to their prominence -- to their promise. the false imprisonment of american citizens did not change under president rouhani. what excuse proffered is that
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somehow the iranian legal system is organized differently than the american legal system. of course, we believe that the president has huge power. said, in the united states, the executive branch investigates, prosecute, and imprisons those committed did -- those convicted of crimes. they tried traced and execute senses, supervises programs that reportedly have prisoners. the chief justice is also the official whose request for pardons are initially addressed for it is he who bears the responsibility of making recommendations to the supreme leader for pardoning or reducing the senses of convicts within the framework of islamic criteria. i therefore respectfully call on the chief justice who called on the president many times. now we us have conveyed
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call the chief justice to address these cases. the chief justice reviewed been trial andthe of the instructed the prosecutor general to release for public review the appeal records and the evidence should be courts relied on each of their cases. the chief justice has also been asked to permit the swiss ambassador in tehran to visit with each of these prisoners and report back to his government and two hours on the state of their health and the condition of their imprisonment. article six in the iranian constitution is that it is the judiciary's role to serve as a director for the rights of individuals and society, call on the chief justice to lament
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that. ironically, iran wants the world to lift sanctions and trust them with nuclear capabilities despite continued and violent disregard for fundamental rights, not just for americans but for countless other people, especially indigenous iranians. the u.n. special repertory for warned ints in iran march 2014, just a few months ago, that hundreds of individuals reportedly remained in some form of confinement, including 179 baha'i, 48 christians, and working dervish muslims. in final, while i am grateful that the president raise the residenthe call to rouhani less september, the united states can do much more to secure his release and that of two other americans.
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i was devastated to learn that the administration did not even ask for my husband's release when seated directly across the table. she went on to say my husband is suffering because he is a christian. he is suffering because he is an american. american representatives have abandoned him. we need to redouble our efforts. with the deadline coming, july of we have a window opportunity. >> thank you for a very eloquent statement. i now recognize members for one
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minute opening remarks and we will begin with mr. connelly of virginia. >> thank you, madam chairman. imagine for a moment that you are a gay woman, an iranian ethnic minority whose working conditions are deplorable and would like to take action to improve your life. first, your efforts to join the workforce is commendable. it is presumed that your husband did not at jet to your employment -- to object to your employment because by law he has a right to. like most kurds, arabs, or believes she's in iran, you persevere to a lifetime of government who neglects institutionalized discrimination. you nonetheless are arrested for spreading propaganda for form a socialist groups.
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the human rights situation in iran is medieval and remains bleak and it is very important we speak out about it. >> are subcommittee chairman is recognized. >> i want to commend you and chairman's myth on these continuing hearings on iran. iran continues to be one of the world's leading abusers of human rights. regime persecutes anybody who dares to speak publicly or not so publicly against the regime and often issues death sentences to iranians who are charged with insulting islam. it has become pretty clear that the so-called moderate rouhani is just another in a long list of iranian thugs whose contempt s human own people'
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rights. thank you for holding today's hearing on this very important issue. i would like to thank the witnesses for the testimony this morning and to say that it is a great honor to be joined by people who exemplify courage and a deep commitment in the injustice andst human rights abuses. as we continue to closely monitor negotiations, we also have a responsibility to address other risks, such as how iran threatens human values. in a region of the world where the track for civil liberties and human rights come especially for women, girls and minorities, iran's fans out as particularly stands out asran particularly egregious.
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i am particularly concerned about sexual and gender minorities in iran. iran is one of the few countries that has death penalty as a gays and lesbians and other sexual minorities. >> now we will turn to our panel and wonderful witnesses that we have. first, we welcome dr. john -- robert george. he is the mccormick professor of jurisprudence and director of the james madison program in american ideals and institutions at princeton university. he has taught at harvard law school and is a senior fellow at the hoover is jewish and at stanford university.
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welcome, dr. george. we will quickly introduce the other panelists. we also have ms. claire zaharias who was born and raised in iran where she was denied entrance to university simply because of her faith. after leaving iran, she was resettled as a rep e.g. in canada before moving to the as a refugee in canada before moving to the united states. we are pleased to welcome mr. hossain is on a who is the middle east and north africa regional program coordinator for the international gay and lesbian human rights commission. he has worked over the last 15 years in iran and throughout the region to promote equality and to foster cross-cultural understanding and support for
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the civil and human rights of all people. mr. amir hussain ate editor-in-chief of a persian website that covers human rights and civil society news in iran. because of his rule -- his role in student protests, he was imprisoned for two years. in 2010, he was forced to leave iran. witnesses.all of our your statements will be made a part of the record and we will begin with the esteemed actor george. >> the believes defining iran's regime remain strongly theocratic. any iranian dissenting from the interpretation of shia islam may be deemed enemy of the state. the united states has designated iran as a country of particular
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concern. that means it's government ranked among the worlds worst religious freedom abusers, rejecting dissenting iranians, prolonged detention, torture and even execution. andregime human rights freedom record -- record picture is bleak. iran has -- iran's already dire conditions have deteriorated during the rouhani tenure particularly for baha'is, muslims and those belonging to minority sects. a sheer laird who advocates cleric who- a shia
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advocates tolerance. dissidents and human rights protectors have been executed for the crime of "waging war against god." dear is a snapshot of what we have seen. >> without objection, that list will be made a part of the record. >> at least 135 baha'is are in prison because of their religious beliefs, a doubling of the number since 2011. marks six years of incarceration for leaders imprisoned following their consciences in matters of faith. taking a cue from regime and media, members received a knife injury from an attack and a local leader was attacked -- was killed last autumn.
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the baha'is, the government views protestants as their main competitor. as of february 2014, at least 40 were imprisoned, detained or are awaiting trial. weaknesses -- significant increases of christians in prison meant to intimidate them. a christian pastor was one of those injured. as you can see, he is a young man. minister serving eight years on the absurd charge of "threatening iran's national security." november, he was transferred to another prison known for its harsh conditions. in march, he was beaten after he was sent to a hospital in may.
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he was repeatedly beaten again and return to prison. during the pastor, u.s. policy has included public statements and imposing unilateral sanctions for human rights violations. we recommend the following. the u.s. government should include violation of human rights and religious freedom conversations with iran. continued to designate iran a country of particular concern and take action appropriated under the international religious freedom act. agenciesree, identify and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom, barring them from entrance into the u.s. and ask for action. a knack for multiple years in
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forlautenberg amendment religious minorities. u.s. officials should speak out publicly and frequently at the highest levels for the religious freedom abuses and work with the international community to hold authorities accountable. representatives should join the freedoms project. iran,ering how to engage let's recall the pledge of conscience.human i swore to never be silent where there is suffering and humiliation. we must always take sides. neutrality helps the aggressor, .ever the victim here iran's religious minorities are not waging war against god gave . but the rulers are waging war against them.
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negotiations on the nuclear issue really could divert attention from its increasingly egregious violations. we must not let that happen. the u.s. should insist that iran cease its war at home against its own people and their rights. >> thank you so very much. push the microphone and hold it close to your mouth. let's start the clock again. my name is claire meharry. i was born in iran and i am a baha'i. for givinghank you me the opportunity to share my story with you. the baha'i community of iran datebeen a target of us sponsored persecution since 1979.
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my family and my husband's family have experienced persecution firsthand. when the revolution began in 1979, i was 12. tofather had been serving the elected governing council of the high community. as a result, our house was rated five times. finally, in 1980, my father and several other members, along with two other local baha'is were arrested and imprisoned. wasrison, my father notified, because he was a baha'i, his employment had been terminated and salary owed to him was canceled. his retirement fund, which had accumulated over the course of 24 years in the civil service, was reprocessed. my family and i would is it my fat i -- my father once a week. my brother and i would take our report card to show my father.
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he told us that he was happy we were doing well in school. us a birthday note on a piece of clothing. he said he needed us to understand that he was not in prison for any crime and that he wanted us to fight for him by doing well in school. my apologies. beforehis is the cute his execution, my father was expected to can tune you a list of questions. this was his so-called trial. after the trial, my father and of the baha'is sentenced to death and held in solitary confinement for 24 hours here at during this time, they were islam or choice of
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death. this meant, if they recanted their state and declared themselves to be muslims, their lives would be spared. .ll of them refused instead, they declared that they were baha'is and for this they were killed. on july 29, 1981, at the age of executed.her was my brother was nine and i was 16. when my family was in formed of my fathers death, one of my relatives went to an -- to receive his family. he was forced to pay for the
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bullets. later that night, the executions were announced on the radio. they stated that my father and the others work in the it of corruption and warring against god. i finished high school in iran in 1983. though i had one of the highest wars, i am a like many other students across iran, was denied entrance into university solely because of my faith. the next year, i left iran traveling on the back of a truck along pakistan. i was accepted as a refugee in canada and now i live in virginia with my family. he is from tehran. he wasas a young man, arrested and detained three times in tehran. twice for playing jazz in private concerts and once for possessing educational material in his car for baha'i children. when he was arrested for having
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the children's materials, he was imprisoned for two months and was often held in solitary confinement in a small room with no windows. he was 18 at the time. he was also denied admittance to university because he was he was a high -- because he was a baha'i. in was stranded in a mounta village. he crossed the border to turkey. he resettled in maryland. he has been a successful civil engineer. but he was terminated from his job for being a baha'i and his salary pension and savings were seized. in the years following the revolution, professors were expelled from universities and baha'i youth were denied education at university.
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my brother-in-law along with others who had also lost their jobs after the relay pollution came together to -- after the revolution came together. informal form of classics for classics, biology, architecture, and law. material and funds are donated and classes are held in homes. it serves as the only viable annual -- only viable avenue for baha'i education. for over 20 years, he and the other dedicated apple tv and staff have been giving -- dedicated faculty and staff have been giving freely for the chance to contribute to society.
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series2011, there was a of raids on homes assorted -- homes associated with ibhe. in october, after a short trial, he and six other baha'i educators were convicted of membership. actione goal of taking against the country. they were each sentenced to four to five years with my father-in-law receiving four years. , they werencing removed the prison where the mail resumes were put in the same ward as the members of leaders known as the you run -- as the yaran.
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there are now 12 individuals who are imprisoned solely for their efforts to educate the highs. -- educate baha'is. my husbands's family is now living through -- because of my father's imprisonment, it is nothing new. there persecution began long before the imprisonment. cousins were executed for being baha'i. wine is a brother who was six years at the time. they buried him in a small the baha'imetery -- small cemetery. soon, the cemetery was old those -- soon, the cemetery was bulldozed. years,last several
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younger sisters and husbands have been imprisoned twice. one was denied to university and completed her studies and law and was working with offenders .or an organization >> if i could impose the time limit on your statement -- >> sure. >> i'm sorry to do so. >> not a problem. i'm almost there. -- itember 2013, rouhani is a restrictive document that raises serious concerns. rights applyhe only to religious minorities recognize be the iranian constitution, a group that excludes baha'is.
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i would like to thank the house of representatives who are 4028.g on may 28 hr and i hope that the senate and the president will agree to this much-needed provision. >> thank you very much. thank you for your powerful testimony. yielow, i am pleased to d. thank you, sir. you.ank thank you for inviting me to testify today. almost one year ago, iranians went to the polls to choose their seventh president of the islamic republic of iran. if you had any illusions about the flawed process or the real power. over the past three decades come
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elections in iran have been fueled with out -- with allegations of rigging and intimidation of candidates, and wide disqualification by the electoral monitoring body. just last week, the iranian president ronnie himself openly noted that elections in iran had the reputation of day a political sham. -- thethe united states office of the president in iran has no control over the army, the intelligence, the police, or key policy issues. the only central tower is the office of the supreme leader gerry -- leader. he has the leading philosophical and military say. facts may already be known to the committee, a brief mention of them may help
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us to set realistic expectations while evaluating the presidents performance and accomplishments. political dynamics of the aslan make republic, the office of president cannot be an engine of significant change. on a bigger scale, it is not state a theocracy. the the last 12 months, human rights situation in iran has noted no significant improvement. to carry has continued out a high number of executions, including political prisoners. other instances of violations execution,enile torture of detainees, the ban of free speech, and the persecution
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of individuals based on their religious beliefs and political opinions. i would like here to specifically highlight the iranian gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals. iran continues to prescribe the death penalty. the social, media and top publications and top officials, ,ncluding iran's supreme leader regularly attack homosexuality as a western conspiracy and a sign of moral decay. individuals suspected of being gay, lesbian or transgender face systematic acts of violence and discrimination. newspapers are shut down for publishing opinion pieces about same-sex relations. lg tb -- lgbt people are subject to humiliation and beatings. professors and students are forced to leave universities for
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organizing discussions about gender and sexuality. acts of violence against suspected lgbt family members often go unpublished -- unpunished and unnoticed. year,esult, every hundreds of lgbt individuals leave their home country and seek asylum in the west, including the united states. i am one of them. by the humand rights violations occurring in iran. but i do believe that ronnie's presidency offers an opportunity presidencyhani's offers an opportunity. in less to believe government control, more international trade, and a stronger role for cap -- for academic and traditional communiqu├ęs. he should not be mistaken for a rights but heuman appears to be willing to make small and ferments and seems to have the political capital to do so. the united states government has
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the moral obligation to provide resources to the iranian people toget broader access information on human rights standards and protection, including censorship. the political opening created by ronnie's election should be counter the notion that human rights are not compatible with iranian traditions and values. also, it is important to keep in mind that the authorities in iran should take notice that the west is not interested in its bottom line or lucrative oil business. they need to know that the international community cares about the human rights records and take part in developments on that regard. more portly, human rights protection should not be a footnote or in the fine print of bilateral and regional negotiation. the united states and the west
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should speak loudly about the importance of human rights and make sure to discuss this topic in every conversation. 'thank you very much. and now i am pleased to yield to ati.asam thank you. members of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to testify before you today. former iranian political prisoner. motivated me to speak at this hearing is the continuation of systematic and wide violations of human rights and basic freedom of iranian people along with the efforts of international community to prevent the iranian regime from [indiscernible] today, the islamic republic of
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iran, under sanctions, has been -- of www.c-span.org [indiscernible] towould not be off a mark claim that the election of her honey in june 2013 was due to this pressure -- of her honey in 2013 was due to this pressure. , sinceng to reports rouhain'sy -- since student prisoners were deprived of due process and a fair trial. in the past year, enforcement of
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prison sentences for religious minorities , along with other
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members of the government such as the foreign ministers are active in this special network. monopoly on has a media in iran. it has an important role in censorship and propaganda against its opponents. signals hasatellite been intensified since the new government has taken office. ladies and gentlemen, at such experienced detention, torture, and harassment for my political peaceful activities.
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i believe that the u.s. and its allies should ask iranian authorities to be committed to international obligations. granting him the permission to talk to the victims of human rights violations. jammingransmission satellite signals. commitment to free elections in accordance with the free and fair elections passed by parliament in 1994. to ask you toike
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ensure periods of the united for sanctionsent against violators of human ofhts and the suppression dissidents. . all the financial and military organizations under his control. the execution and and the it shows that- the release would not be .ontrolled it would intensify the pressure.
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thank you. forhank you all of you powerful testimony. we have heard the harsh realities in iran. , dr. george iran is not alone. a part of your commissions mandate by law is to review the ongoing facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom around the world. present that in your annual review and make policy recommendations to the president .nd secretary of state comic entries are listed as a country of concern due to their ongoing violation of religious freedom? how manager commission recommend to be listed? when was the last time in a country was designated as a country for particular concern by the state department?
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administration overrule your commissions recommendations? is the systematic of a larger problem that the united states is dropping advocating for religious freedom on our foreign-policy agenda? have we been using all the tools available to us like shank shins -- sanctions. your you again for testimony and telling your story. that story is not unique to just you as a member of a minority community. 'su talked about rouhani citizens rights. , the least ofns which that does not recommend the high as a religious
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minority. era of reform in moderation or his he just another man in the inner circle of the supreme leader who is managed to fool so many with a talking entity promises? have been a political prisoner of the iranian regime and your testimony you say that the silence of the international community in the face of ongoing human rights violations in iran has encouraged rouhani to further expand the use abuses and curtail the rights of the people. as the rush to label rouhani moderate blinded us to his real nature because we want to believe that he can change iran and the administration's push for a nuclear deal without pursuing the human rights track as well.
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has this emboldened the regime to committing these atrocities without repercussions? we will begin with dr. george. >> thank you again. i want to address one of the points you made into your western. this is the question of silence. sometimes from the united states. time and place for quiet diplomacy. i can tell you some examples from our own experience where that time and place existed. staying quietme, encourages the human rights abuses to continue the abuse. most of the time what we need is focal forms of resistance and criticisms. this is true with iran.
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the state department has eight countries of particular concern. china, iran,ma, north korea, said arabia, sued on, and his pakistan. -- this back to stand. some of these a been recommendations for several years. countries that we are recommending that have not been designated as countries of concerned are egypt, iraq, serious,serious, -- vietnam. we list pakistan at the top of the list. they have not been designated as countries of concern. if there is one country the top , that is pakistan because of horrific abuses that take place there.
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the last designation by the state department were in 2011. we strongly advocate annual designations. these recommendations become part of a wallpaper. noted -- nobody notices them anymore. we really need annual designations. we want to make these designations on an annual basis. a second.to stop you i want to let others respond. , ihaih respect to the
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have been hopeful. participating in no partisan politics. we have noticed that in the last sear since mr. rouhani' presidency, we have had cemeteries desecrated and people stabbed in their homes. there's been no rugrats in the investigation of the case. -- no progress in the investigation of the case. this was the catalog of anti-b'hai articles. in january there was 55, in february there were 72. in march there were 93.
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anti-b'haie were 366 articles. >> thank you. is under theor supreme leader. the election of hassan rouhani was international rusher. rouhani does not have enough power to change the human rights situation in iran. did, he would not change anything. he is not a reformist. he is very close to the supreme leader. regime as aw the reformist. >> thank you very much. thank you, madam chairman.
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thanks to the witnesses for being here. it is almost overwhelming. breadth of the abuses in iran is almost too difficult for us to get our arms around. i would like to try to approach it a different way. you focus on religious freedom and i appreciate what you do. let me start with the other witnesses. we are viewing all this is a human rights issue. to the like you to speak understando help us what it means in each specific area. what would you say to the religious community in our country to help them understand, to help them feel the
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persecution that the baha'i undergo in iran? >> it is simple. it is been nothing but one into practice our basic rights. to be able to be married and go to school and continue education. all for the sake of really just .eing baha'i an >> to the lb gta community in engaged, helpe them understand the relevance of what is happening to the community in iran. emphasize thatto the issue is not specific to the gay community. it is a broader issue and goes back to -- >> i appreciated. i point is it is so broad that
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for those of us who spend a lot of time thinking about human rights issues and how to uphold universal human rights around the world, that is how we approach it. i am trying to personalize this for people who may not think much about iran and don't think much about foreign policy but understand their own community. >> it is as easy as this. individualityour and your privacy is constantly being violated and scrutinized by the government. the government decides how much rights you have based on who you are and what sexual orientation or gender identity you have or what gender you have. there is a difference between the rights of men and women in iran. everything has been categorized and depending on which category you belong to, for the gay
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exist.ty they don't they have no rights. the government continues to violate the rights of the lgbt community on the idea that it is perversion. just last week, the parliament classified report that showed almost 20% of students in iran have homosexual tendencies. we are talking about a sizable portion of the society that is being violated on a regular basis. >> for students in america who and forged in politics community leaders, can you talk
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about the type of persecution they would experience in iran? i want to introduce my friend. she is a student. after rouhani's selection, she got arrested. just because she was active in the presidential campaign. she is sentenced to seven years in jail. jail.last july she is in she should be in jail for another two years.
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she is one of my friends. she has been in jail since 2009. many of my friends are in jail at the moment. they're in jail just because of political activities. finish, i know that we talk about human rights. to look at those rights that are , for americans to , america with freedom of religion to understand the persecution that the baha'i and
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other religious groups face in think that for americans to stop for a moment and think about what it would be and to be persecuted subject to death because of your sexual orientation, for you to help us understand for students and people who are engaged in views that are in opposition to and thernment possibility of going to jail, that is how we need to think about it here. these are tremendous violations of universal human rights. who faceo journalists the same thing in iran, to journalists in this country i would suggest the same thing. think about what it would be like for you in iran and let's
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all be guided by those notions of how our own lives would be turned upside down because of what we believe and who we are and the way we voice our opinions. i am so grateful for you being here today to help shed light on that for us. it is very moving testimony. i hope it moves us as a nation. for underscoring the importance of human rights on the table when discussions of nuclear weaponry are in hand. totalitarianust a when they so maltreat and torture and murder their own people as well as three americans who are being held unjustly?
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we had a hearing in december and at the wolf hearing shockingly himadministration told there was nothing we could do to help her. thankfully secretary kerry did reports -- reverse course. that is not part of the negotiating. it is far off the periphery it would seem. onterday i chaired a hearing human rights in north korea. we heard from the ambassador at large from south korea. ambassador lee. he talked about a grand kimimation of the newest and laid out how horrific the treatment is. envoy to south sudan
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and cochair of the north korean human rights effort often about the abject failure of the nuclear talks and the delinking of human rights to those in out human rights had deteriorated because they were not even on the table and people were not there subjected to the relief that they might've gotten. the same issue is being replayed with iran. we have done it with trade issues with china. these are appropriate parallels. this is very discouraging that is not there front and center. how do you trust a regime that which is its own people? in 1983i joined president reagan at the white house when they had a mobilization and president reagan spoke out only about how
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alarmed and dismayed the persecution of baha'is in iran. he talked about men who had been hanged and shot. one of those was your father. my greatest sympathy on behalf of the committee for your enormous loss. not surprisingly, they made your family pay for the bullets. underscoring why human rights have to be front and center and not on the peripheral negotiations. thank you for being here. i think members have cpcealize that not a single called for annual designations.
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don't have those designations in a robust there are 18 sanctions that are meant to be showsed when a country difference, -- and not even the designation since 2011. designate cpcl to countries. there are many more that out to be added to the current list. we don't have an ambassador at large. i chaired the hearing. this is not what we envisioned. i would like to ask you, you point out that official policy
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promoting anti-semitism has risen sharply. you elaborate on that? you point out the issue of sanctions. i wrote the belarus democracy act. we worked with europeans on who we sanctioned. the numbers of people on both sides, it is almost the same people. you point out that the european union had 90 people that had been sanctioned to our one. where are the others? we have a law in place to do it. to update and add to that list. i do have a lot of others. i will just go to your answers. >> thank you. i will take a moment to address the particular issues you wanted
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me to talk about. sincee noticed that rouhani assume the presidency, there has been a toning down of the anti-jewish rhetoric that we had seen from government officials in the previous regime. any diminutionn remaining jews in iran. this was once a flourishing community there. there has been some toning down of the rhetoric but no real action to make things any different for the jewish community. they are third class citizens or worse. they are always subject to harassment of all sorts. we don't have any good news to report beyond the rhetorical side.
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you asking me about the jewish community in iran. ? >> about the sanctions? >> we need those annual designations. your right to urge the administration. every administration whether it is republican or democrat to make those annual designation and call attention to those. they are there to be used. they are effective tools for may are used. we saw this about a decade ago with the tools were used against vietnam. when it was a gross abuse or of religious freedom. we saw some real benefits for persecuted religious people. them from the cpc list.
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we encourage the good behavior that we had seen and wanted to reward them. they slipped right back into their old patterns of behavior and became an abuser again. 2014, we recommend vietnam the shifted over to cpc status. that is another designation we would like to have made. we like to make those designations. >> the tools are there. you can put travel restrictions on people. the officials who are responsible for the abuses. you can freeze assets. those tools are available as well. make the people who are responsible for these human rights abuses whether they've
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made the abuses or are tolerating them, make them pay a cost and make them suffer a cost. let's use it. hebefore i yield back, talked about north korea and the abject failure of delinking human rights. we have delinked human rights from the talks of nuclear issues in iran. it is a mistake. it is never too late to relook at that. i would encourage the administration with the deadline coming up with the three americans. but human rights on the table and be bold about it. have names and lists. one of the things that reagan did excellently when he was
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went,ent, wherever they they met with dissidents and they gave a list and said we want progress on this. it is linked to everything else we do. as my colleague agreed that, we just passed the new north korean sanctions, is there clearly between sanctions and the elevation of the issues? >> there is definitely a link. areanctions when they it want to hurt the iranian people. >> i was just picking up on the north korea thing. thank you so much. mr. connelly is back.
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>> i think the chair. i welcome our panel. yougeorge, i assume that are on the commission for international religious freedom. you agree that we can't cherry pick which groups we advocate for or which groups we say deserve special protection. humanthe whole canopy of rights violations that we need to be concerned about. with that be an accurate statement? i am here on behalf of the boundary lines. but i can talk about is religious freedom abuses. they are also linked to other abuses.
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in those circumstances, we feel it is in our mandate to call attention to those abuses because they bear and religious freedom. represent a range of viewpoints on a wide range of issues. we are united on the basic commitment of religious liberty. member ofo avoid any the commission speaking out of turn or offering a personal opinion which might not be we in our capacity stay within the lines. yours.s stay within would it be advisable if the congress and the administration were to decide that we will focus on the persecution of roman catholics in iran? we will not be talking about the baha'i or jews. we are focused on that one.
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what would that do to your mandate and what message would that send to iran? to advocatete is for all religious freedom. >> we don't want to be cherry picking human rights in either just as we don't within your purview. >> i am sure that is true. there are many important debates about the nature of rights and the contours of rights and whether something is a right or not. those disputes and you have in the congress and that we have among the american people. >> to what extent do you deal with the cultural barriers? therea was founded on
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were careful boundaries. jefferson referred to them as firewalls between the state and religion. professionally cut their teeth on exactly that. madison spent his early virginianal career in fighting against the established church of virginia. he wanted religious liberty for other non-establishment groups. to what extent is it a cultural issue? iran does not have that tradition. one are overwhelmingly denomination. one can understand that there's going to be tension when people are outside the norm. to what extent do you and your
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mandate and to what extent does the united states have to understand that the difference between crossing a boundary that we cannot accept and that is persecution versus cultural identity that we have to respect and work with? >> that is an excellent question. iran is different from the united states. we do have the separation of church and state. that is not a phrase that exists in our constitution. didn't have that. -- they don't have that. our church and state separation should not mean the separation of religion from public life. religion has played a public -- important role in our public life. george washington said that
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morality and religion were central to the flourishing of a free institution. john adams in the constitution is for a moral and religious people. we can understand the relationship between religion societies,nd other including in iran where religion is an important part of the picture. we don't see it as something separate. we don't say that martin luther king should not have spoken in terms of the bible. we don't have the system of france and other jurisdictions. we don't treat religion as the enemy of politics. we value religion in public life. is doingifference ,espect the right of everyone
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including those who have no faith to follow their consciences in matters of faith? we believe that very strongly and we have since the beginning. even before we had a first amendment, we had a prohibition of religious test for public office. any person of any faith can hold office in the united states. tohave committed ourselves international human rights standards with respect to religious freedom. we are asking iran to live up to those standards. we are not asking them to disavow their religion. whether they are sunni or whatever they are, that is what we are asking. we are not trying to be cultural
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imperialists. they have a different system and that is ok. we're not trying to force them into a jeffersonian constitution. we do say live up to the requirements that you have signed on to in international documents by respecting the religious freedom of the minorities. >> i think that is a very important distinction. if i can ask just one more question. thank you, mr. chairman. that you want to bt persecution. i want to come back to the theme i was asking dr. george. i'm a little concerned that sometimes some of my colleagues want to highlight certain human rights abuses and never talk about others. it seems to me that if are going to be consistent and hold
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somebody to a norm, every group is entitled to human rights protection. whether they be baha'i or women or gay lesbian brothers and sisters. could you talk to us a little bit about that? some of our human rights advocates conspicuously never talk about that. we send a signal unintentionally to the regime that is not a signal we want to send. what is your sense of that? >> i want to thank you for highlighting the cultural problems. the root of the issue in iran is cultural. that needs to be highlighted. ihaslk about a region that seen regime changes.
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all of those countries we see the simple regime change is not resulting in improvement of human rights. i want to balance that this is a social problem and we need to deal with that as a social phenomenon. we need to invest in the society. we can't hope for a regime change or a change of the approach to fix the issues. going back to your question, i want to mention that we don't think this is about lgbt people. ands about sexual rights the rights of people to decide who they want to love. this is equal rights between men and women. we're not here to talk about a specific segment of society. we are aware that when we talk about iran we are talking about a society where heterosexuals don't have rights. if you're walking down the street with your boyfriend as a woman, you can be arrested.
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any sexual encounter outside heterosexual marriage is a crime. this is outrageous. issues,talk about lgbt i want to emphasize that rights will be provided to all iranian citizens regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. this is about the right of individuals to decide what they want to do with their body, regardless of the interference of the government. the government does not have the right to tell people what to do in the privacy of their own house. people can decide that. are related to general rights. we are not talking about a specific segment of society or a very specific subcategory. we are talking about general rights that everybody is entitled to. >> thank you for your
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graciousness. >> the time has expired. i appreciate you coming. i think this issue of iran is very important. i would like to say that i was alarmed this weekend when i was hearing rumblings not disrupt the administration but from numbers of my own party that the way to deal with what is going on in iraq is to work with iran. i think that has died down and rightfully so. we do not have mutual interests with iran. they are diametrically opposed. an enemy of the united states. contrary to our national interest. iran is a mature sharia state. aligning with them would not serve our national interest. given that, i'm concerned about
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the decision to send money to this unity government with the palestinian authority. they may have of the near of technocratic leadership. hamas is part of that government and it will end up going to hamas in one way or another. guess who that aligns us with? that alliances with iran because they fund hamas. i am going to be working with some of my colleagues to stop that money while hamas is part of that government. i think that is very important. youessor george, i think described our history with religious liberty. i wonder in terms of viewing iran, they are going to have their own system. it is more than just that. it is muchllahs, more than just religion. it is a sociopolitical
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totalitarian ideology. you can look at the united states after the constitution, we had states like connecticut had established churches. they were not active in that way. the idea of sharia being so broad seems to be more than just about the religion you believe in. there are millions of people who are muslims who do not subscribe to the overall ideology becomes of that. >> that is absolutely right. you can have an established religion and in the united states we prefer not to have that. thelast ones died out in 1830's. britain has the anglican church. it is respectful of the rights of religious minorities. i lived in britain for five years. i was not a member of the established church but i was
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free to practice my own religion. we would not want to say to the british that you have an obligation under human rights. they might for their own reasons. >> the anglican church did not permeate society to the detriment of other people. >> that is exactly right. they do discriminate against catholic people as to who can be on the throne. >> i think that is still true. >> you put your finger on the real problem. there is not an official religion as such. in the name of this theocratic rule, the kind of totalitarianism is imposed. no one else's rights is respected. i mentioned one of the ayatollahs.
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him.wed a picture of himself he is a shia. because hecuted speaks out on behalf of the rights of non-shia muslims. out, inthe flesh that iran if you convert away from islam, that is a crime? what type of punishment did you get? >> you could be put to death. >> i have been following this. the government rated christian churches. that would be par for the course there? >> yes. >> you can be convicted of a crime if you insult islamic sensibilities. >> yes you can. punishmentssevere
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such as stoning zen and mutilation? how are those developed? >> it comes from sharia law. ayatollah was the speaking about freedom. he said that we have freedom unlike any other country in the world. europe talks about freedom of speech but asked them about the holocaust. they're not free to deny the holocaust. we don't know if it existed or not. he thinks that because we don't have these grand debates about something that is obvious if you study history that we don't have freedom of speech. , why wouldn'tw they want freedom? some people will leave that freedom is freedom to live under
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sharia. , they view freedom freedom differently than we do. i think that what you have testified about is very important. behind the people in iran who are struggling for freedom. ishink the tragedy is it snuffing out the vitality you have seen historically throughout persian society. i know there are people in iran who are suffering under the yoke of this dictatorship who would be like-minded with people in the united states and throughout the west. i commend you for speaking out and i commend the chairman for holding this committee. my time is expired and i will recognize the gentleman from rhode island for five minutes. >> thank you again to our witnesses for this compelling testimony.
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i hope that it will cause this committee and the congress to focus more energy on the issue of international human rights. i would like to begin with you. i want to ask you, i know the journalist who responded to former president mahmoud ahmadinejad was in prison. what is the status of that individual today? is he still in prison today? >> yes. there was a journalist who worked for an iranian news agency. he had a blog. he started to talk about issues including the existence of homosexuality in iran.
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that was listed as one of the charges against him. he ended up in jail. as late as last month there was another case. a newspaper published an article. newspaper reformist that is running on a daily basis. they published an editorial about homosexuality. the next day it was shut down by the courts because it was promoting homosexuality. any conversation about this issue is considered to be propaganda against islam and is banned. >> the laws that criminalize homosexuality in iran, they were renewed as recently as 2013. what is the likelihood that we will see any progress or any movement on this issue?
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supreme leader sets policy. is there any reason to be hopeful? tot can we do as a country increase the likelihood that there will be basic human rights accorded to all individuals regarding sexual orientation in iran? can we impact what is clearly a horrific discriminatory unsafe environment for people who are gay and lesbian? >> the issue is not the government. the government is hopeless. they are not going to change. happen is toan promote tolerance within the society. the united states can play a critical role in this. i just mentioned one example. we started a program about two years ago to basically talk to
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journalists about the language they used to talk about lgbt issues. this is not a sexual issue. it is a human rights issue. the approach has changed. the outside media are banned, but people are hungry for information. they want to understand what is going on. nobody believes the government again do. -- propaganda. broadcaste biggest corporation on the planet. this is just a few miles from here. we have resources to communicate with the iranian people and teach them the value of tolerance in a civil society. that is the kind of long-term investment that we need to see in iran. i am hoping that the new by theion would not stereotypes and narrowmindedness that the government is defending
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as part of their ideology on a daily basis. issuesfully raising the in hearings like this will help to advance that as well. >> thank you for being here today. i am from a state that prides itself in having been founded by roger williams on the idea of religious freedom. that people would be denied back to seeing their own traditions but they would face imprisonment a mysteryion is such to civilized people in the world. i am so sorry that you had the experience that you did. is what can we do as a country and as a congress that would have some positive impact on the ability of religious minorities to exercise their
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religious freedoms and to be able to do so without facing her to or discrimination? i would ask any of the panelists, what can we do? we hear this testimony and most americans would find it horrifying and disturbing. there has to be some action we can take. there has to be some steps that we can take to respond to this to have some impact. i would start with you. country, we can make notice thatan is on they are being watched. anything the state department has done and will continue to hopefully do would be appreciated and helpful.
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also there is a house resolution 109 that is in front of this committee. 130 congressmen have passed it so far. if anyone has not, they are encouraged to do so. iran is being watched and that would be more than helpful. >> dr. george? thene thing to do is lundberg amendment must be readopted every year. why not adopted for a. of seven years. why notal years -- adopted for a span of several years. it allows them to transit through other countries to get the united states and they are being persecuted. it would not only beat substantively very valuable in
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terms of assisting people who are under severe persecution or threat of her situation, symbolically it would send an important message. that is a very concrete thing that congress can do. >> thank you. >> i just went to reiterate that it is my opinion that people like hassan rouhani and mahmoud ahmadinejad come and go. the problem is the darkness that has been promoted for three decades. lay a role byan funding resources and allow society to talk to each other and people inside iran have access to information. the government tries to deny that. allowing them to learn about themselves and their rights and how the international community and the west functions, we can inspire them to create a better society for themselves. what you can do for human
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rights in iran is pressure. nuclearll work on the issue and will work on the human rights issue. the peopleemember asking president obama to be with them. people have a positive view of the united states. that view, to change ignore the human rights. >> i think the chairman for the indulgence. >> thank you to the witnesses for sharing their personal stories with us. the bravery and suffering that they have endured, losing family
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members and being in jail. thank you for bringing so much awareness to us. dr. george, thank you for holding up the photographs of real victims of the persecution that is going on daily in iran. thank you for the brave work of your commission. we look forward to adopting their recommendations very soon. audience, thank you for being here with us today. with that, the subcommittee is adjourned. >> thank you madam chairman. >> thank you. >> next, "q&a." 7:00, your calls and comments on "washington
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journal." both the house and senate are in session today. the house is in at noon for general speeches. bills, they will debate a bill. votes on amendments are postponed until tuesday. the senate is in at 2:00 for general speeches. they will vote on for this to judge nominations. >> for over 35 years, c-span brings public affairs of events in washington to you. we put you in the rooms at congressional hearings and conferences. we offer gavel-to-gavel ea coverage of the u.s. house. we are created by the tv
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industry or a five years ago and brought to you as a public service by your local cable provider. hd, like us on facebook, and follow us on footer. ," weis week on "q&a you discussed the future of the media. >> sharyl atkisson, one of the cbs reporters. we talked five years ago. now you're three months passed being with cbs. tell us why you left. >> primarily because i just wasn't a market for what i think i do best after i was doing, which is good investigative reporting preferably on topics that were underserved and also on topics people don't want to touch because they get push back
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or blow back. i like covering these kinds of topics. >> this may surprise you, this was you five years ago right in that same chair. >> rate this job you have. is this it? >> this is it. this is the best. especially you have your ups and downs and everybody -- the joke is only good as your last story. over all, this is what i want to do and with katy and the bosses that i named, heavily support this type of reporting which is a dream come true for someone who loves to dig and satisfy the curiosity. this is it. >> what happened? >> i think over all, not just at cbs but according to my colleagues and broadcast elsewhere, there's been a

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